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Neighbors Concerned Over Proposed Mental Illness Treatment Center in Walnut Creek

A doctor of psychiatry is looking to open an adult mental illness treatment facility in the East Bay, and neighbors are concerned how it might affect the safety of their community.

Dr. Gregory Braverman, a medical board psychiatrist, is seeking approval from Contra Costa County to open the center at a former elderly care home in an unincorporated neighborhood of Walnut Creek.

Residents in the area are sensitive to the negative connotation that a mental illness facility carries. They say it’s too close, and there are too many unknowns.

"There is not significant amount of security proposed to maintain the right safety for patients and our community," said resident Megan Nykoluk, who moved into a brand new home in the neighborhood on Tice Valley Boulevard less than a year ago.

At the beginning of the month, Nykoluk and her neighbors found out that Braverman proposed opening a center where adults ages 18 to 65 can check in to get in-home counseling and recover from emotional crisis and mental illness.

"After careful screening, we put them in this program; it’s a voluntary program," Braverman said by phone Wednesday. "The patient has to sign a consent and say they want to be treated. It’s not a locked facility."

That’s precisely what concerns people like Margaret Mediati, who is worried about security.

"All it takes is one individual to come in who is angry or upset and to potentially do harm to someone working or living in the facility or someone in the community," Mediati said.

Braverman has two other facilities similar to the one he is proposing, one in San Jose and another in Sacramento. He says the facility is needed in the East Bay.

"They cannot stop these programs from developing," he said.

Concerned residents have circulated a petition against the proposed facility that has gathered about 600 signatures in a week. A public hearing on Braverman's proposal is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday in Martinez.

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